Contaminated land

Protecting your business from legal and financial liabilities

Why do I need contaminated land services?

  • There is a legal requirement to assess for contamination
  • It will save you money
  • It will reduce the risk of operational disruption
  • It will enable you to take remediation steps where necessary
  • Protect business reputation

Why Adler and Allan?

  • Our experts carry out investigation, assessment and design solutions to environmental risks on 22,000 sites each year which means we can help you understand and minimise your risks
  • We have over 600 dedicated specialists with over 5,000 qualifications between them, including 150 degree educated environmental consultants with a combined experience of over 1,000 years, strategically placed across the UK and Ireland
  • Impartial advice and appraisal- we’ll give you non-biased recommendations on how to improve your sites

Understanding your land

You have a responsibility to assess for land contamination where you have caused or knowingly permitted it to occur; or where you are legally liable for it.

Land contamination can cause significant impacts to water, soil, ecology, human health and building / structures. Therefore, you must ensure that significant impacts to the above are not present, and the risk is suitable for the sites current or intended use.

Contaminated land could contain any hazardous substance and could be caused by your current operations or what the land has been used for previously. The risk from this is dependent on what the substances are and where the site is located (its environmental sensitivity).

A thorough understanding of the risks from land contamination is critical when you own, lease or operate a property, when acquiring land / businesses, or redeveloping land.

A technician working in a lab

Creating a safer site

Our expert consultants have decades of experience dealing with all types of contaminated land in locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. A contaminated site can present numerous commercial, technical and legal challenges, all of which generate uncertainty. This can also increase cost and create delays when land is being bought, sold or redeveloped.

Our consultants deliver a full range of assessments required to assess whether the site has the potential to be present and what its associated risk is. This includes preliminary risk assessment, generic quantitative risk assessment and detailed quantitative risk assessment.

The in-depth findings will advise you on what steps need to be taken on land affected by contamination to rectify the issues and reduce the risk down as much as possible. The consultant will also advise on what remedial work is required, and what we can do to help you in the remediation process.  

No matter what size of land you have, Adler and Allan are here to help you reduce your environmental risk, and protect your business interests whether you are buying, selling or developing a piece of land.

Understanding contaminated land

Land contamination

This is a wide ranging term used to describe the impact to soil and water from historical human activity. Land contamination is caused by a variety of past uses including historical industrial use, disposal of waste materials (licenced and unlicensed) and the importation of material to raise ground levels. In some cases, contamination of soils can occur due to natural occurring compounds, typically metals.

Contaminated land

In some cases, where there is considered to be a possibility that harm could be caused to certain water bodies, human health and ecology, land impacted by contamination can be determined as ‘Contaminated land’. This has a specific legal definition set out in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act.


Known more fully as “Land contamination risk management”, LCRM sets outs the guiding principles and processes for how to assess if there is unacceptable risk associated with land affected by contamination, decide which options are the most suitable to manage the risk and implement remediation if needed.  Applicable to various causes of contamination including pollution incidents and historical contamination, LCRM is designed to ensure that all environmental assessments are undertaken in accordance with government policies and / or legislation within the UK.

Land contamination/Environmental assessment

The process of investigating, assessing and remediating land contamination. The works are designed assess and address risks to:

  • Human health.
  • Property (existing or proposed) including buildings, crops, livestock, pets, woodland and service lines and pipes.
  • Adjoining land.
  • Groundwaters and surface waters.
  • Ecological systems.
  • Archaeological sites and ancient monuments.
Phase 1 environmental assessment

Term often used to describe the first phase of assessment of land contamination. Typically, this involves a desk study, site inspection / walkover and completion of a preliminary risk assessment.

Desk study

An assessment of the potential for contamination to be present on site from a review of available information, typically including historical maps, regulatory data, geology, groundwater and ordnance survey mapping, petroleum officer information and planning records. This is similar to a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment but doesn’t include a site inspection / walkover. This information is used to derive a preliminary risk assessment.

Site inspection/site walkover

Site visit to provide a detailed description and identify sources pathways and receptors on a site and in the surrounding area. This is often undertaken as part of a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment. Preliminary Risk Assessment but can also be completed as a standalone piece of work to enable an assessment of environmental risk management or environmental compliance.

Phase 2 environmental assessment

Term often used to describe the second phase of assessment of land contamination, typically a site investigation. This involves the assessment of ground conditions and the collection of soil, groundwater and surface water samples for chemical analysis to confirm levels of contamination and allow an updated assessment of risks to receptors.

Site investigation

Method of assessing ground conditions and collection of soil, groundwater and surface water samples. This typically includes the drilling of boreholes and / or excavation of trial pits.

Geo-environmental assessment

Site investigation designed to assess environmental risks (similar to Phase 2 Environmental Assessment) but typically combined with a geotechnical assessment for foundation and engineering design.

Geo-technical assessment/investigation

Site investigation specifically designed to confirm engineering requirements (foundation design, etc) for proposed developments. This includes information obtained on site and also independent laboratory testing.

Generic quantitative risk assessment (GQRA)

The method of assessing the significance of chemical analysis results on soil, groundwater and surface water samples against published generic assessment criteria and environmental quality standards.

Detailed quantitative risk assessment (DQRA)

The method of assessing the risk to human health and / or groundwater and surface water using mathematical models inputted with site specific data and information.


Process of ‘cleaning up’ of land contamination to levels no longer considered to be an unacceptable risk to the identified receptors.

Remediation options appraisal

A method of assessing the most suitable remediation options based upon the contaminants requiring remediation, technical suitability, site specific constraints, the level of remediation needed, sustainability and cost. A mathematical appraisal is often used to identify the most suitable option.

Remediation strategy/remediation method statement

A document which sets out the overall strategy for remediation including the aims, detailed specification of the chosen option, confirmation of remediation target levels and details of how the success of the works is to be verified. This is required prior to commencement any remediation works.

Remediation trial

This is often undertaken to trial the chosen remediation method to ensure that the theoretical suitability is applicable in site specific conditions. The trial is often a scaled down version of the final chosen method.


Verification is the method of confirming that the remediation has been successful in meeting its aims and objectives. The verification report will include details of the works undertaken, variations to the original scope, comparison of soil and or water sample analysis results against the target levels and details of disposal of waste materials.

Environmental risk management

Process of assessing potential environmental risks at a property including the identification of existing potential liabilities and assessing the potential for future contamination to occur. This processes identifies areas of site improvement ranging from identifying key pollution prevention measures and incident response planning.

Environmental due diligence

Forms an increasingly important part of the corporate due diligence process undertaken prior to the purchase and sale of land and property and as part of mergers and acquisitions of businesses. The process aims to identify environmental liabilities and associated costs in order to protect the proposed purchaser or funding partner from future unforeseen costs or legal action.

Geo-environmental feasibility assessment

An assessment of the feasibility of a proposed brownfield redevelopment based geotechnical, waste management, earthworks and land contamination restraints. This forms an important part on whether to progress with a particular development or design.

Waste collection

The process of testing, analysis and subsequent classification of soils as inert, non-hazardous or hazardous waste in order identify an appropriate disposal route. This is a requirement of landfill or reclamation facilities prior to accepting materials.

Baseline assessment/investigation

Involves a site investigation prior to commencement of operations on a leased site in order to identify baseline levels for comparison against when the lease is surrendered. This ensures that the client is only responsible for remediation to levels of contamination present prior to operations. This process also identifies whether business operations are likely to be disrupted as a result of land contamination and also ways of reducing the potential for contamination to occur during future operations.

Keep your business compliant and protect the environment while reducing the risk of operational downtime

Find out how Adler and Allan reduce your risk and support you on your journey to Net-Zero through the management and maintenance of assets.

Contact our experts